S.M.B. - Logic and Rhetoric
Sunday, March 14, 2004
KRISTOF'S COLUMN ON NATIONAL PRIORITIES AND WHAT KILLS US
According to Nicholas Kristoff, Americans think acting tough and dropping bombs is more "presidential" than being balanced and practical. A president is apparently the leader who airs on the side of murder, sadism and carnage when he is confronted with America's problems.
Kristoff, in his column, points out that of food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars, terrorism kills the least Americans (even accounting for the worst years), and cars (he should say driving) kill the most Americans annually. That means food-related illnesses, firearms, and the flu, too, kill more Americans than terrorism. Sweden has this shit under control:
Sweden has reduced traffic deaths by encouraging seat belt use, converting intersections to traffic circles (they "soothe" traffic), replacing rigid guardrails with new rails or cables that absorb or "catch" cars, and exhorting cyclists to wear helmets. The upshot is that Sweden 's accident rate is one of the lowest in the world.HUH?! Not to me!
"If the United States could achieve Sweden's current standard, this would save 12,500 lives per year," the authors say.
Granted, it seems less presidential to call for more guardrails than to invade Middle Eastern countries.
If the purpose of national policy is to insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare, then why does it seem more presidential "to invade Middle Eastern countries?"
The invasion of Iraq is killing more people than its saving from death, and the President continues to neglect the other problems that must be addressed to save more people here. There's a gap here; do Americans really believe invasion seems more presidential than saving lives?
What Kristoff refuses to entertain here is that maybe Americans will respond more favorably to somebody who wants to attack these problems; nobody can have an opinion on what approach is presidential (invasion or "guardrails") if this conversation hasn't even taken place in the national discourse. 117 Americans die from car accidents each day, few Americans ever die of terrorism.
The people in the red states, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Mississippi, are probably more afraid of terror than cars, people (like me) here in New York City are too smart for cars, but want more balance in a president. Invasion ain't quite good enough to convince us that we're in good hands...
Friday, March 12, 2004
FROM ANDREW SULLIVAN'S BLOG; HOW IS HE SO RIGHT ABOUT THIS AND SO WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE?
Amy Jenniges lives with her girlfriend, Sonia, and I live with my boyfriend, Terry. Last Friday I accompanied Amy and Sonia to room 403, the licensing division, at the King County Administration Building. When Amy and Sonia asked the clerk for a marriage license, the clerk turned white. You could see, "Oh my God, the gay activists are here!" running through her head. County clerks in the marriage license office had been warned to expect gay couples sooner or later, but I guess this particular clerk didn't expect us to show up five minutes before closing on Friday.
The clerk called over her manager, a nice older white man, who explained that Amy and Sonia couldn't have a marriage license. So I asked if Amy and I could have one--even though I'm gay and live with my boyfriend, and Amy's a lesbian and lives with her girlfriend. We emphasized to the clerk and her manager that Amy and I don't live together, we don't love each other, we don't plan to have kids together, and we're going to go on living and sleeping with our same-sex partners after we get married. So could we still get a marriage license?
"Sure," the license-department manager said, "If you've got $54, you can have a marriage license." ... It's not the marriage license I'd like to have, of course. But, still, let me count my blessings: I have a 10-year relationship (but not the marriage license), a house (but not the marriage license), a kid (but not the marriage license), and my boyfriend's credit-card bills (but not the marriage license). I don't know what a guy has to do around here to get the marriage license. But I guess it's some consolation that I can get a meaningless one anytime I like, just so long as I bring along a woman I don't love and my $54.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
SQUANDERING THE TRAUMA OF 9/11
"Lucky me, I hit the trifecta," said George Bush in the immediate aftermath of September 11, according to his budget director. War, recession and national emergency liberated him to soar in the political stratosphere. But after several faltering starts this year, he felt compelled to relaunch his campaign with $4.5m (£2.5m) of television advertising in 16 key states. In 60-second commercials he would lock the sequence of recent history into the American mind, his narrative of his presidency as he wished it to be understood. Images of September 11 cascaded across the screen, firemen carrying a flag-draped coffin at Ground Zero juxtaposed against another firefighter raising the flag. Bush's slogan: "Steady leadership in times of change".
"Where the hell did they get those guys?" responded the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters. It turned out that the firefighters in the ads were hired actors - "cheaper and quicker", as a Republican party spokesman explained. Enraged members of the 9/11 Widows and Victims' Families Association described them as "disgraceful" and "hypocritical". While he used the flag-draped 9/11 coffin, he refused to allow the press to photograph coffins of US soldiers returned from Iraq. What's more, he was "stonewalling" the official 9/11 commission, as Senator John Kerry put it, holding back documents, refusing to allow the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to testify in public, and limiting his own testimony to an hour.
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
I'M BACK, NEW AND IMPROVED!
I'm finally back. I took a nice, long break from blogging to enjoy the fruits of existence, such as sunlight, social contact and non-delivery food. But I am back after a period of a lot of tension here at Columbia; there were racial tensions and massive protests. ROTC--the Reserved Officer Training Corps--advocates have been contacting wealthy, sympathetic alumns who are advocating that ROTC be placed back on campus, I have been working to make sure that this does not happen, or at the very least, to make sure that kids on this campus know that ROTC is a commitment to the military and all that is demanded ofa soldier within that institution.
Some interesting stories I've read lately:
Warren Buffett disses Bush's policies in his annual letter to his shareholders, and says that if there is class war in America, his class is winning...
John Kerry is beating Bush according to a new Gallup poll that came out recently, this is with or without Nader's inclusion as a factor.
And the United States and Britain pressured Hans Blix to claim that Iraq was in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1441, according to the Washington Post.
I'm not very excited by John Kerry, and I absolutely hate Dubya. What is a liberal like me to do? I will meditate on this and remember simpler times...
But until I reach these conclusions, I will sleep, take midterms, party, shower and think yet again.
Monday, February 16, 2004
A NEW ARMS RACE?
"MOSCOW A huge Russian military exercise that will involve numerous launches of ballistic missiles and flights of strategic bombers is not aimed against the United States but reflects Moscow's concerns about U.S. plans to develop new types of nuclear weapons, a top general said Tuesday.
The exercise, which has been under way since late January at the headquarters level, will involve launches of an unspecified number of sea-and ground-based ballistic missiles and take Russian strategic bombers to the air, said Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces.
Baluyevsky dismissed media reports that the exercise would closely resemble Soviet-era simulations of an all-out nuclear war with the United States, saying that it was not directed against any specific country.
"The enemy is imaginary," Baluyevsky said at a news conference. "There is no hint whatsoever that the enemy is the United States, or any other country. The United States holds a similar exercise each year and no one is making a fuss about it.""
Friday, February 13, 2004
BOB HERBERT'S LATEST
"Mr. Bush favored the war in Vietnam, but he had the necessary clout to ensure that he wouldn't have to serve there. He entered the Texas Air National Guard at the height of the war in 1968 by leaping ahead of 500 other applicants who were on a waiting list."
Thursday, February 05, 2004
N.Y.C. COUNCIL PASSES ANTI-PATRIOT ACT MEASURE
The New York City Council is smart enough to know what the corporate press won't tell us: the Patriot Act is an anti-freedom measure, rather than an anti-terrorist measure. If the Patriot Act does not simply give authorities the power to attack terrorists, it gives them the ability to spy on non-terrorists.